Skip to comments.It's the sweet season for N.J.'s maples
Posted on 03/14/2007 8:21:56 PM PDT by Coleus
At the Weis Ecology Center in Ringwood, trees are tapped in February and March. When the trees bud, the sap turns bitter.
See those wide-spreading trees with the broad leaves that are bigger than your hands? The ones whose seeds helicopter down into your lawn every spring? They're maples. And even here in North Jersey, they're full of that sweet sap, which can be boiled down into what is rightfully called liquid gold: pure, clean, bright maple syrup. "New Jersey's is every bit as good as syrup from Vermont," said Candice Stockdale, an environmental educator at the New Jersey Audubon's Weis Ecology Center in Ringwood who taps trees in February and March, after the sap has thawed but before the trees begin to bud, which is when the sap turns bitter.
The first sap of the winter boils down into a brilliant golden syrup, light on the tongue with a crisp taste. This is the quintessential pancake and waffle syrup, ideal as a finishing sauce and sweetener. It will brighten your morning cup of coffee like no spoonful of sugar, and when brushed on pork or chicken, it will make your meat shimmer. It's probably the purest flavor you could drizzle over vanilla ice cream or yogurt. In stores, it's usually labeled light amber, medium amber. The lightest Vermont syrups are called Vermont fancy. As sugaring season moves toward spring, the sap becomes more robust, boiling down into a strongly flavored, deep amber-colored elixir, usually labeled dark amber or, in the case of the strongest Vermont syrups, Grade B. "And when you get that darker syrup," Stockdale said, "you'll want to use it for cooking."
Instead of a cup of sugar in a coffeecake recipe, try ¾ cup of maple syrup. Or swap syrup for sugar -- following the same proportion -- in muffins or pie fillings. Lighter syrups are perfectly fine for cooking, too, but they don't have the same concentrated maple flavor.
Want your own taste?
"You can only do maple sugaring in this part of the world -- here and in Japan," Stockdale noted. "New Jersey is about the southern range of this. There's no other place with the climate, and I think that's something very special." Unopened maple syrup can be stored in its original container for about three months -- longer, if it's in a sealed glass jar. Once opened, it needs to be refrigerated, but it will keep for months. Blog: northjersey.com/foodblog
A taste of N.J.
Local maple syrup will be flowing freely Sunday at the Weis Ecology Center in Ringwood at the group's annual pancake breakfast and brunch fund-raiser. Guests will be seated hourly on the half-hour, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Non-members pay $8; members pay $5. The Weis Ecology Center is at 150 Snake Den Road, Ringwood; 973-835-2160 or njaudubon.org/centers/weis.
Maple teriyaki salmon
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Reserve ½ cup for basting, cover and refrigerate. Pour remaining marinade into a large, resealable plastic bag. Add salmon, seal bag and turn to coat both sides. Refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours. Drain and discard marinade. Broil salmon 4 inches from heat for 5 minutes. Baste with reserved marinade and broil, basting frequently, for 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Servings: 4. From: Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association.
Sweet potatoes with ginger-lime and maple-bourbon-pecan butters
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry sweet potatoes and rub with oil. Pierce in a few places with a fork and place on a baking pan lined with foil.Bake for 45- 60 minutes, or until flesh is tender. Cream 4 ounces of butter in a small bowl with a fork or spatula. Add lime zest and ginger and mix thoroughly. Place butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a log. Twist ends of plastic wrap to seal it, wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate until needed. Cream remaining butter, as above, and add pecans, bourbon and maple syrup, mixing until thoroughly combined. Roll into a log, as before, and refrigerate. To serve, cut slit in sweet potato, spread halves, and top with desired amount of each butter. Servings: 4. Note: If wrapped in plastic wrap and foil and placed in a freezer-safe plastic bag, butter can be frozen for three months.
Maple custard with sugared pecans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spoon 1 teaspoon of maple syrup into each of twelve ½-cup ramekins, swirling to coat the bottoms. Arrange the ramekins in a large roasting pan. In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the yolks with the whole eggs until blended. Whisk in the remaining 3 cups of maple syrup. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Carefully pour enough very hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 55 minutes, or until the custards are just set. Using tongs, immediately remove the ramekins from the hot water and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the custards for at least 6 hours or overnight.
For pecans, in large skillet, melt the butter. Add the pecans, and stir to coat. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Put the sugar in a large bowl. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pecans to the bowl with the sugar and toss to coat. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet, shaking off any excess sugar. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let cool. To serve, carefully run a thin knife around each custard. Dip each ramekin in a bowl of boiling water, and then quickly invert the custard onto a plate. Spoon whipped cream over the custards, garnish with the sugared pecans, and serve. Servings: 12. Note: Custards can be refrigerated for up to two days. The sugared pecans can be stored overnight in an airtight container. From: Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit the blog
see NJ isn't all bad ping
There is a company in Vermont that uses Vermont maple syrup to sweeten the taste of their liquid ginseng. Good stuff it is.
Alright, more recipes. I like the B grade on waffles in spite of what the article says.
The maple syrup is boiled down even further, drizzled over snow, and served with a sour pickle and spiced cider donut. A sticky winter treat. Yummmmmmmmmmmm!
Special Vermont Maple Barbecue Marinade
Recipe from Lee Light, Hollister Hill Farm, Marshfield, VT.
For ribs, par-boil for 30-45 minutes or until fork tender. Chicken does not need to be precooked. Mix remaining ingredients together for marinade. Marinate the meat for at least 2-3 hours, turning frequently. Grill until well browned on all sides. Enjoy!
Mmmmmmm, sounds great! I love BBQ. Thanks for the recipe!
You're very welcome. I like this recipe better than using honey actually ... and I've been known to go c-r-a-z-y w/ the garlic.
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